Wheelchair Users: The Dangers of Falling/Tilting and more...

Wheelchair Users: The Dangers of Falling/Tilting

This is a post I wrote today for Guns, Gams and Gumshoes, a website I and my better-half started in 2009 for private investigators, researchers and writers developing sleuth/P.I. characters and stories. Over the years, both of us have written articles about everything from protecting one’s information on the Internet to our favorite private eye characters in movies and books.

But this article is different. I felt strongly I needed to address an uneducated comment made about one of our siblings who must use a wheelchair full time.

Let’s Better Understand What It’s Like for People in Wheelchairs

by Colorado Defense Attorney Shaun Kaufman

One of the Guns, Gams and Gumshoes’s sisters is a full-time wheelchair user.  Recently, when her wheelchair began working improperly, and she feared she might fall from her chair, she called 911 for help. Firefighters arrived, cut the power to her chair, and lifted her into a backup wheelchair.  Someone we know thought this was a mis-use of 911 services, and said the wheelchair user should only have called if it had been a “life or death” emergency.

I found this statement to be  ignorant and condescending as the guideline for making a 911 call is if someone is in imminent danger of injury as well as danger of death — for a wheelchair user afraid that he/she might be falling out of their chair, it is indeed a situation of imminent danger that can cause injury, and in fact death, as the majority of wheelchair deaths are the result of the person falling or tilting from the chair. Look, the bottom line for emergency medical intervention is to ameliorate the potential severity of injury.

Falling/Tipping from a Wheelchair: The Most Common Cause of Death

The U.S. National Library of Medicine conducted research of the death certificate database of the National Information Clearinghouse of the Consumer Product Safety Commission over a 15-year period, and identified 770 wheelchair-related deaths. The majority of those deaths, 596 persons or 77.4 %, died as a result from falling from their chairs or tipping over while in them.

Understanding the World of Those Who Use Wheelchairs

Most of us are uncomfortable to some extent with things we don’t know or understand. One of those things might be people who use wheelchairs, and may result in our saying something thoughtless without meaning to. Below are a few articles to aid understanding of those in wheelchairs:

10 Things To Never Say To A Person In A Wheelchair (via HuffPost)

Non Wheelchair User Etiquette (via Apparelyzed)

How to Interact with a Person Who Uses a Wheelchair (via WikiHow)

Save the Wheelchair (a fundraising campaign for the Roll on Capitol Hill)

Thank you, Shaun

Kaufman

Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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ATF Special Agents Sue the Government

ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — on their official website, they still go by the abbreviation ATF) special agent Jay Dobyns worked undercover in the Hell’s Angels gang.  After finishing this undercover job, he and his family received death threats, among other horrific threats, and eventually his Arizona home was burned to the ground while Dobyns was out of town. Fortunately, his wife and children, who were sleeping inside the home, survived.

ATF Field Office Refused to Investigate Fire

Afterward, the ATF agent in charge of Dobyns’s field division did not send any agents to investigate the fire, instead calling the incident a “minor scorching.” Later, ATF supervisors, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, accused Dobyns of starting the fire.  He filed a lawsuit against the government for failing to address serious threats and retaliation against him.

On February 20, 2014, Dobyns wrote about his experience on his Facebook page:

I have been accused of being selfish, a narcissist and an shameful self promoter. With some honest self reflection those criticisms maybe, and probably are true. But I assure you, nothing that has come from this suit I am proud of. It has been degrading and humiliating and embarrassing…

To read more on his Facebook page, click here.

“The Agency Has Lost Its Way,” Claims ATF Agent

Another ATF agent, Vincent Ceflau is also suing the government, and believes his and Dobyn’s’ cases are connected. “The agency has lost its way,” says Ceflau, “and has been unable to accept responsibility and unable to right the track.”

Closing arguments in Dobyn’s case were in late February. Judge Allegra has said he will have a decision as soon as possible, which given the complexity of the case will take several months at least.

Dobyn has a quote on his Facebook page: Never Push a Loyal Person to the Point Where They Don’t Give a Damn. Not sure why he posted that quote as he was pushed, hard, and yet he still gives a damn.

Kaufman

Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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In Honor of Pink Shirt Day: Tips for Legally Stopping Bullying

Bullying is an intentional act–be it verbal, nonverbal or physical–meant to cause harm to others.  Today, February 26, is Pink Shirt Day in Canada, a protest against bullying that was started by a couple of high school boys who handed out pink shirts to their peers in school after a new kid, a 9th grade boy, was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.

Wear a Pink Shirt to Protest Bullying

In honor of Pink Shirt Day, I’m posting an excerpt from the article “How to Legally Stop Bullying” written by my webmaster and better half, Colleen Collins — the link to the complete article is at the end of the excerpt.

How to Legally Stop Bullying

by Colleen Collins for eHow

Bullying can occur at school or in the workplace. The harassment can be verbal (name calling), non-verbal (mimicking a disability) or physical (offensive gestures). Both children and adults can take steps to legally stop bullying, from the more immediate protection of a restraining order to the longer process of pursuing a lawsuit.

  • Report the bullying at school. The child being bullied, a friend of the child, a witness to the bullying or a parent can file the report. The individual can file the report through a teacher, school counselor, vice principal or principal. Most schools have policies and designated personnel in place, including law enforcement, for either remedying the situation, working with the bully’s family or commencing legal action against the bully.
  • Document the bullying at work. Work harassment is a legal offense under the federal employment discrimination laws. To strengthen a case, either the person being harassed or a co-worker who witnessed the bullying needs to document (through written reports and, when possible, photographs, video or audio recording) each of the occurrences (using dates, locations and witnesses).
  • Follow your employer’s anti-harassment policies. Contact the Human Resources Department for a copy of these policies.
  • File a restraining order. If you believe your harasser might cause you harm or violate your privacy, you can request an attorney to obtain, draft and serve a restraining order, or you can do it yourself. To find a qualified attorney, contact your county bar association. Make an appointment, and bring along your documentation of events and actions to stop the bullying.
To read the full article, click here.

Kaufman

Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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Drunk Driving Laws and Sobriety Checkpoint Laws by State

Every state in the U.S. determines that a person driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at 0.08 percent or higher is a crime. Each state also has ignition interlock laws. Specifics to other state DUI laws, and to whether or not they conduct DUI checkpoints, are in the below tables.

Drunk Driving Laws Table

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) provides a table, including links to each state, that further defines license suspensions for first offenses, additional vehicle and license plate sanctions, open container laws and more. To review this table, click here.

Sobriety Checkpoint Laws Table

Not all states conduct sobriety checkpoints, also called DUI checkpoints. The GHSA outlines which states conduct sobriety checkpoints, how often and if how they are legally upheld (or not). To review this table, click here.

Kaufman

Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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Sartorial Tips from a Lawyer: What to Wear to Court

As my friends and family know, I’m a decades-long fan of the Grateful Dead, but I know better than to wear tie-dye to court. Court is not a concert — it’s a place of respect and seriousness, a venue where persons appointed as magistrates or judges officiate in the administration of justice.

In other words, it’s not the place to wear a trippy, mind-bending tie.

First Impressions Count

Two attorneys dressed for court

According to a 2009 article in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, a person’s clothing is a top factor in how he/she is perceived by others, along with other traits such as a firm handshake and good posture.

The below sections on dressing appropriately and choosing colors are useful for both men and women. The rest is geared to men because that’s what I know. For the female readers, I suggest checking out attorney Dianna Gould-Saltman’s article “What Should I Wear to Court?”

Dress Appropriately

I’ve read several lawyers’ blogs where they recommend dressing as if you’re going to your mother’s synagogue or church, or to your grandmother’s for Thanksgiving dinner. I suppose they’re using the mother/grandmother angle to reinforce the idea of respectfulness, modesty and cleanliness, all of which are good guidelines.

I read another lawyer’s blog in which he counseled young lawyers to dress sedately, but once they started getting a few gray hairs, they could dress however they wanted for court. Uh, not true. I have more than a few gray hairs, and I’d never dress any way I want for the courtroom unless I want my case to be treated any ‘ol way the judge wants. Doesn’t matter if you’re twenty-six or eighty-six, first impressions still count.

Choose Suitable Colors

Confession time — I’m blue-black color-blind, meaning I can’t distinguish well between blues, blacks, browns and greens. This means I rely on my color-astute wife to help me pick out clothes for court. When we started dating, she mentioned I was a “fall” person, which made me think she viewed me as some kind of fall guy until she explained I looked best in fall colors, like muted yellow, green, etc. As she explained, wearing the right colors helps a person look healthier, younger and refreshed. Who knew?

My wife suggested I include a color chart in this post, which is below. For those of you who like to read the fine print, yes, this is a color chart from TheChicFashionista.com. May I add that just as real men eat quiche, real men also aren’t intimidated by the word fashionista.

Image courtesy of TheChicFashionista.com

 

Charcoal, Navy and Blue

In general, these are the best colors to wear to court. They’re not as severe as black, and they complement many colors of shirts and ties. Many years ago at trial college, an instructor claimed that blue was the best color to wear to court because blue connoted “the truth.”

Caveat: Never Wear Brown

The same trial college instructor lectured us that credible trial lawyers should never wear brown to court. Why? Because used-car salesman wear brown suits, so wearing a brown suit connotes the image of a tire-kicking shyster. Hence, I’ve never worn a brown suit to court, or anywhere else for that matter.

Avoid Bright Colors

A lawyer’s appearance should be a subtle, professional message, but if you wear a bright colored suit, you become a distraction. Or worse, a joke. You’re not a crayon, you’re a lawyer. Oh, and avoid white suits, too, as they connote “drug kingpin.”

Select the Right Tie

I have some Jerry Garcia ties, but I don’t wear them to court. I also have a Broncos blue-and-orange tie, but I don’t wear it to court, either. Again, your goal in court is not to dress like a distraction or a cartoon or a rabid sports fan.

A courtroom isn’t a rock concert – save the flashy ties for another time

I have a variety of solid, dark-hued ties that I rotate with my suits and shirts. A salesman at a men’s clothing store also helped me match some patterned/striped ties with shirts and suits. A rule of thumb: Select patterns/stripes that are tastefully scaled and modest.

What About Shoes?

Keep it simple: Black or dark brown lace-ups. Another lawyer said to never wear square toes, so I’ll toss that suggestion in here, too.

To Shave or Not to Shave

Again, I like keep it simple —  I always go to court clean-shaven. For those of you more creatively inclined in the facial hair department, check out this article on The Lawyerist: The Gentleman Lawyer’s Guide to Facial Hair. 

Kaufman

Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
 

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